Aspiring emcee DJay works the angles to get his first record made with help from assorted people in his Memphis 'hood. And when he hears that hip-hop superstar Skinny Black is heading to his area, he throws together a supreme hustle to grab Skinny's attention. Written by
Movies and music, that's the winning combo when it comes to industry amalgams but haven't we seen it all? We have the good; The Bodyguard and 8 Mile, the bad Honey and the downright ugly aka Glitter (put the crossbow down, I had to mention it). However, this John Singleton produced flick snipes at the genre from a different angle.
The increasingly talented Terence Howard (recently seen in Ray and Crash), plays DJay, a pimp turned rapper who wants to prove his worth and swap his tricks for a trade in America's crunked up south.
Newcomer Craig Brewer takes the helm as we visit Memphis and see it through the eyes of the down but not outters consisting of DJay and his working girls. When he reunites with school friend Key (Anthony Anderson) they decide to take charge of their lives and realise their dream by putting together a demo tape of their skills, with the hope of hitting the big time.
This is not a bad movie, in fact Howard is equally as convincing as a pimp with a newly found heart and as a rapper, something that was both a bold and a fruitful choice. If the star hadn't convinced on any level it is a sure-fire guess to say a non-rapper would never be allowed to rap in a movie, but he did and he did it well.
The standard underdog making it to the big time route has been bypassed and replaced with a story that hold's your attention and has an unpredictable and real conclusion.
Amongst Flow's supporting cast, Isaac Hayes takes stage as the bar-owner who puts DJay in touch with the hometown's former star- Skinny Black, played sneeringly by Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges. As well as these two familiar songsters, Anthony Anderson and DJ Qualls, of Road Trip fame, make up the group and put in solid performances. The female cast who constitute DJay's trade are Eminem's ex-girlfriend in 8 Mile, Taryn Manning and Paula Jai Parker as the outspoken Lexus, again all providing non-sterling but convincing turns as part of the phat pack.
But it is Taraji P. Henson's part as the heavily pregnant Nola who catches the eye as a sweet and naïve part of the outfit. It is her who seems to be the only person that allows DJay to relinquish his sometimes brutal pimp suit and put on something more responsible and caring as he ventures out hustling for his right to fame.
This is not your standard cheer at the screen rise-to-fame story that Americans seem to love, too much. What it is, is a well thought out project that takes you on a journey of trials and tribulations that are the all more convincing when performances by Howard, Manning and Henson garnish the story.
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